Information is knowledge – and knowledge is power – right? So could more information and greater awareness be key to curbing scams? We’ve invited Hayley Barnes from Friends Against Scams to tell us why they think this is the solution.
Scams like these might seem harmless if they’re something obvious we know to ignore. However, for some, the ending to a scam story can be far more tragic. Scams are affecting millions of us every year as we hand over our hard-earned money to criminals who deceive us with the promise of winning money, having a change of luck or getting a good deal on a new driveway from someone who just happened to be passing by.
Part of the issue is a lack of awareness. That’s why the National Trading Standards Scams Team has created Friends Against Scams (FAS), an initiative that seeks to educate to improve general scam awareness in our communities.
Communities standing up to scams
What FAS wants to do is involve everyone and inspire people to ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’ and make us a scam-free nation.
There’s often the misunderstanding that the people who respond to scams have been foolish as opposed to victimised. However, criminals often target scams at individuals who are already in vulnerable situations. They are also clever at changing their scams to stay one step ahead. We’re all at risk to falling victim; our research shows that although the average age of a scam victim is 75, the youngest recorded is 19 years old. All ages are at risk.
Beyond understanding how people can be targeted, it’s important to be supportive of those who have fallen victim to a scam. It’s our responsibility as grandparents, parents, children, colleagues and friends etc. to look out and support those around us. We’re all responsible for looking out for and supporting those around us.
This is especially important as it’s often difficult for scam victims to speak out and share their stories. Many report feeling isolated; too ashamed to talk about their experiences. They quickly lose confidence in their ability to question the truthfulness of the communications they receive. The situation is complicated but the need to resolve it is extremely important.
Helping to stop scams
The good news is that programs like FAS can raise awareness. The important things are that we:
- Provide people with the information to tell apart the different types of scams (telephone, mail, online, and doorstep) and also recognise a scam from genuine communication.
- Help people feel confident in knowing where to report possible scams.
- Make people aware of the potential signs that those around them may be a scam victim.
- Provide people with practical tips to help prevent and support scam victims.
- Inspire them to spread the message to friends, family and colleagues.
Pretty much everyone has a scam story to tell so if we all ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’ we can make sure all of them have a happy ending.
Do you have a scam story to tell? How confident do you feel in spotting a scam and knowing where to report it?
This is a guest post by Friends Against Scams, an initiative set up to raise awareness to scams through education. All views expressed here are those of Friends Against Scams’ and not necessarily those shared by Which?